CACG: How did you come up with the idea of a bus tour?
Sr. Simone: I asked the advocacy community of the BIG organizations for help and they responded with great generosity. After surveying the Catholic Advocacy community and summarizing my findings, I convened a brainstorming session of the folks from the BIG organizations who had volunteered to help and at that meeting on May 14 we came up with the idea.
CACG: What is the itinerary?
Sr. Simone: I am reluctant to say because it is still changing. But, we are starting in Iowa. After a prayer service in Des Moines on June 17, the next day we visit Rep. Steve King’s office. The next day, the bus heads to Cong. Paul Ryan’s office in Janesville, Wisconsin. Each day, we will have “Friend Raisers” to help organize people and press conferences. We finish in Washington, D.C. on Monday, July 2nd, with an event at Trinity University. People should go to our website – www.nunsonthebus.com – to get the most up-to-date list of our itinerary, complete with addresses, times, etc., so they can join us.
CACG: Why did you pick these destinations? And who will be riding with you?
Sr. Simone: First, the choices started where there are a lot of nuns in order to lift up their ministries and where there are Motherhouses where we can stay. Then we factored in manageable distances and Congressional stops where there are Congress members who voted for the House/Ryan budget whom we want to talk to. With others we want to thank them for not voting for it. Finally it should be noted that many of these members are Catholics. We are especially looking forward to the visits at Congressmen Boehner, Cantor and Ryan’s offices. Most of the people on the bus will be other religious sisters but we will also have some press people with us. But, we are going to create a cloistered section where the press can’t come.
CACG: What is the goal of the bus tour?
Sr. Simone: The bus tour is about Catholic Sisters standing with our bishops in opposing the immoral budget proposed by Congressman Paul Ryan and passed by the House. By lifting up the ministries of Catholic Sisters we can show the work that still needs doing and how the Budget will devastate the people that we serve. We have an alternative and that is the Faithful Budget
CACG: What part of the budget scares you the most?
Sr. Simone: It is that the Ryan budget undermines our Constitution. Our Constitution was based on the premise of individual rights in community. The Ryan budget is just about protecting rich individuals and devastating the community. This is a fight for the soul of our nation. Catholic social teaching says that the positive role of government is to counter the excesses of each culture. Our cultural excess at this point is individualism, so the work of government is to counter that by emphasizing our responsibilities to each other. Our shadow as a nation today is individualism and our place of conversion is here, in Catholic social teaching’s emphasis on community.
CACG: Where do you get your inspiration?
Sr. Simone: From the Holy Spirit. My congregation is dedicated to the Holy Spirit, so when times are tough, I just rub my medal. It is a very physical prayer.
CACG: We apologize for this, but we have to ask. What was it like going on the Stephen Colbert Show?
Sr. Simone: I was nervous at first because the producers told me not to be funny and I like being funny. But, then Colbert came in and he explained his character, this buffoonish, right wing caricature, and he said to me, “Your job is to push back against that character.” Once we got on the set, I was totally relaxed because his advice was exactly the right advice and he was great to play with. You could tell he was having as much fun as I was.”